Movement Charter/Ratification

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Ideas that came up in SWAN call 2 on 25 April 2021 about Ratification of MC

The Movement Charter (MC) will need to be ratified by the community/communities in order to be accepted by the movement. The general idea of ratification has been mentioned in the context of the working group recommendations, and in some specific proposals, but there has been no process defined so far.

The participants in the second SWAN meeting of 25 April 2021 decided to start the discussion on ideas for the ratification process. (Check below for jamboard-discussion and meeting etherpads)

With a better idea of what such a process may be, it may become easier to make decisions about the role and responsibility of the drafting committee. (Please visit Movement Charter/Movement Charter Drafting Group/Skills and experiences for developing the ideas about skills etc needed in the committee.)

Key questions[edit]


  • Who makes the final decision on the wording of the draft MC that will be submitted for ratification? In other words: who decides what exactly we will be voting on?
Suggestion: This should be the decision of the Movement Charter Drafting Group - they will create the text through an iterative process, and at each iteration they 'sign off' what is being reviewed. At the final iteration the Drafting Group submits a final draft MC.

  • Should the entire text of the MC be ratified in one single process? Or should the ratification process be spilt up?  (If so, what would be the best way to split it up?)
Suggestion: Why not Agile/Scrum and work in Sprints of a month, and have a Sprint Review at the end of every Sprint in which stakeholders can inspect the Increment?
+1 to this, though a month is not a long time for work of this nature - longer periods may be needed.
  • What format should the ratification process have to be valid and acceptable to the movement? Request for comment (RfC) format (voters make their choice publicly on Meta), secret ballot (voters choices are anonymous, as is done for Board Seats) or something else?
Suggestion: Probably worth thinking about principles for this before solutions. E.g: should be designed so that large projects cannot steamroller small projects, or vice versa; that all communities can participate equally (so, don't have one English language poll on Meta, for instance).
I definitely prefer a decision per wiki (all 900 of them), following local decision making process. You have to discuss what to do with wikis that reject the charter entirely.
Another system is to elect a Global Council which will ratify (after amending) the text.


  • Who gets to vote in the ratification of the draft Movement Charter? Affiliates, project communities, individual editors.....?

  • Should there be a minimum level of participation in the ratification process for the result to be valid?
Comment: Possibly. High participation is important. There should be a strong and well-resourced effort to reach out to communities throughout the process to help them engage and ensure their feedback is being given (and listened to). Though the process also needs to be robust against attempts to derail it on procedural grounds.
  • Should there be a minimum level of support for the draft Movement Charter, over voter categories?

  • In line with the Movement Strategy recommendations, should we design a ratification process that will strengthen the views of underrepresented groups?  If so, how can this be done?
This can be done both in the consultation/creation phase by being very active in engaging with under-represented communities, as well as well-established communities - we will need outreach all around. And for the final voting phase, a way will need to be found to make sure the voices of smaller wikis/communities count as well as the larger ones. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 14:02, 5 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • How do we ensure that (participation in) the ratification process meets highest community standards for transparency, while safeguarding values of mutual respect and civility, and preventing abuse of power and harassment?

The Friendly space policy is applicable to the process of implementing the strategy recommendation. You can report incidents to WMF/T&S In general:
  • Assume good faith
  • Be intentional with comments
  • How might my comments help move the process forward?
  • How might we exercise Movement Strategy values in its implementation? Consider the merits of viewpoints other than your own

Raw ideas from the SWAN Jamboard[edit]

Ratification ideas[edit]

  • Have multiple consultation rounds in the process
  • Iterative development process
  • Efficacy/effectiveness of current mainstream community consultation methods
  • Move from 'consultation' to 'ratification' as the charter is developed
  • An elaborate recorded ceremony to mark a historic moment
  • Let each wiki come up with their own decision making mechanism. For ratification, need to be accepted at least by wikis comprising half the editor community
  • Affiliates system is ad hoc - never designed to be representative of the whole movement
  • Individual voters versus affiliates
  • Voting systems
  • RfC systems +1
  • Build up micro-ideas through Community Wishlist, the Committee can combine them together
  • Each wiki should be included in the ratification process, and there should be ratification result per wiki
  • One idea is to elect a first Global Council - and that Global Council can with supermajority decide on its constitution (analogous to AGM amending articles of incorporation of a legal entity)
  • Use a flat global community vote, like the one that was used for the CC license change
  • Open individual community member vote and also Wikimedia affiliate organization vote
  • RFC per section as was done for the Code of Conduct for Technical spaces +1
  • Might need new types of on-wiki voting mechanisms that are more user-friendly +1
  • How to make sure voters are well-informed is more important than details of the voting process

Notes from the Etherpads SWAN calls[edit]

From first SWAN call etherpad[edit]

Copied from this etherpad

  • Thought on ratification could an aim of running it during the Virtual Wikimania where the whole community is being brought into the room
    Response: may be hard to do it by August
  • Shani: It also cannot be only on Meta, like an RFC. Research we have show that for some people in our community huge amounts of text in English, simply does not allow them to participate. So we will have to design for diverse ways of participation, which, like during strategy, we then summarize on Wiki.

From second SWAN call etherpad[edit]

Copied from this etherpad

  • Comment: I am an active participant with a Wikimedia chapter. I have been in various working groups over the years. I see the drafting committee process organized similarly to Wikimedia Foundation branding initiative. To me this seems like a big difference as compared to typical Wikimedia community volunteer committees. Why is this happening?
  • Question: please clarify why you think branding is a part of this
    Response: the Wikimedia Foundation pushed a rebranding proposal without significant Wikimedia community oversight. The result being a proposal viscerally objected to by the community, and I feel that this movement charter is process following a similar path. When we have such a big community process such as this movement charter we should be careful to not have the lack of oversight and participation in this group that there was in the rebranding. The Wikimedia Movement strategy emphasized equity in decision making and inclusivity, and with re-branding there was a closing off of Wikimedia community participation and I fear that in this drafting committee there is a similar closing off. We have a very low trust environment right now and the drafting process should increase community participation rather than be restrictive.
  • Comment: about the branding, the fatal flaw in my view was that the Wikimedia Foundation presented a ratification process which offered only 3 options all of which were the Wikimedia Foundation's own choices which the Wikimedia community had no say in developing. In the movement charter I feel that the ratification should be planned in advance so that when we seek community approval we already know that the community will accept the process. Ratification is key and a valuable thing on which to focus. When we choose committee members I think the choice should be about process.
  • Question: when you asked about the rebranding, where you suggesting that there should be an on-wiki community conversation?
    Response: that could be an option but also community selected representatives could do this
  • Comment from Chris K / The Land: responding to the idea that the drafting process could be 'silo'ed off from the community, as the branding process was. If that happens then the drafting process will fail. It's not a case of a group of people being told to go away and create a document and then put it up for a vote on Meta. The process will need to be different from previous stages of the strategy process. Needs to go step by step (iteratively) with rounds of discussion and feedback on drafts. Could start with 'soft' consultation designed to raise issues, later rounds could be more formal e.g. project RfCs and resolutions of affiliate boards. Further thoughts: Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20/Transition/Proposal:_Drafting_a_Movement_Charter#Thoughts_on_creation_and_ratification_process.